Do corporate travel managers support body scans and pat-downs?

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find anyone who supports the Transportation Security Administration’s controversial body scan and pat-down procedures. But this morning, it seemed as if I had: corporate travel managers.

Travel managers are the folks who manage multi-million dollar travel programs for big companies. They are represented by the National Business Travel Association (NBTA), which bills itself as the “world’s premier business travel and corporate meetings organization.”

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In a press release issued today, the NBTA announced that it had met with TSA Administrator John Pistole and expressed “its support for the security measures the TSA has introduced over the last several weeks.”

Oh really?

I wanted to make sure I wasn’t misreading what NBTA was saying. I have a great deal of respect for the work of the organization, and believe corporate travel managers perform a vital function in the travel industry.

So here’s what NBTA said in context:

NBTA recognizes that security is the single most important role of the TSA. It reiterated its support for the security measures the TSA has introduced over the last several weeks.

However, as members of the NBTA community have reported discrepancies in deployment of TSA security measures at airports across the country, NBTA reiterated that TSA must maintain open lines of communications so that the traveling public can report on inconsistencies in security implementations.

In other words, travel managers don’t mind the scans and pat-downs — after all, those are the most high-profile of the new security measures that have been put into place in recent weeks — but the agency needs to do a better job of communicating.

Is that really what travel managers are saying?

That’s debatable. Travel managers are calling their lawyers. They think the TSA has gone too far. And a survey conducted of TSA’s own membership describes managers as “concerned” and not specifically accepting of scans and pat-downs.

So I contacted the organization and asked what it meant when it said it supported TSAs security measures. Did it mean that in a general sense, including less hotbutton initiatives such as its Secure Flight requirements and its Global Entry program? Or did it mean corporate travel managers support TSA’s scans and pat-downs, which have been widely criticized as being invasive and unconstitutional?

Much to its credit, I heard back from an NBTA spokeswoman almost immediately. She said NBTA only supports the “general” security policies.

Phew. I would say the world is safe for democracy again, but that might be a little bit of an exaggeration.

Good for NBTA for meeting with the TSA and conveying the feelings of its membership regarding scans and pat-downs.

I hope the government is listening.

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